Stopping Smoking Doesn’t Reduce Health Care Spending

But the increased spending is offset by productivity gains:

[W]e estimated that cessation accompanied by weight gain would increase average life expectancy by 3.7 years, and that the average lifetime reduction in medical expenditures from improved health ($5,600) would be offset by additional expenditures resulting from prolonged life ($7,300)…

Avoidance of weight gain after quitting smoking would increase average life expectancy by four additional months and reduce mean extra spending resulting from prolonged life by $700. Overall, the average net lifetime health care cost…would be…more than offset by even one year’s worth of productivity gains.

Health Affairs study. Aaron Carroll comments.

Comments (9)

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  1. seyyed says:

    this is an interesting way to look at the spending effects of living longer/healthier or shorter/poorer health. i wouldn’t mind spending the extra in healthcare costs if it meant i got to live longer

  2. Ken says:

    I think this makes a pretty good case for letting people make their own decisions.

  3. Michelle says:

    I agree with Ken — there are pretty significant pro’s and con’s to each approach. It seems like allowing people to make decisions would even out in the long run and people would get to decide what matters more to them. Would they rather smoke and live shorter lives? Or not and live longer? Do they want to lose weight? Etc.

  4. Jordan says:

    I wish I could read the full report.

    Healthcare costs for weight gain under Tricare might be a little bit misleading. The maximum allowable body fat for men is 20-26% depending on age. Curious how the study handles this, considering overweight soldiers are “supposed” to get separated. Average body fat for American men is 25%, so…

  5. Slater says:

    This makes sense. Its important to remember the ancillary effects of behavior modification, and the problems associated. It’s all about healthy lifestyles people!

  6. Life of Pi says:

    This idea of “productivity gains,” I am skeptical of the calculation behind this.

  7. Buster says:

    Smoking cessation programs don’t necessarily save money — they just change when it occurs. People still get sick and need health care regardless of whether they smoke or not. A few years ago various studies found smoking actually saves money for Social Security because smokers tended to die sooner. Not that we should distribute free cigarettes as part of Social Security and Medicare. But at least admit the reality. Smoking changes the period when medical costs occur.

  8. Dane says:

    …but it surely saves some lives…

    (Will anyone ever start taking into consideration the well-being of people before the dollar signs involved? Honest concern.)

  9. Ashley says:

    Quality of life is more than money spent.